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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 6:51 am 
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There hasn't been much discussion of the detection and weapons ranges issue in this thread. As such, here are some suggestions for review. These are meant to be average or mid-game values, in cases where they vary with tech levels or for other reasons. Also, these are very tentative and preliminary, to be used for intial engine design and content creation, and are sure to need balancing and tweaking later.

* Ships move about 5 AU per combat turn
* Short Range (SR) ships can fire at targets within 5 AU
* Point Defence (PD) ships can shoot about 3 AU
* Fighters can shoot about 3 AU
* Long Range (LR) ships shoot about 15 AU

Reasons and Consequences:

* SR ships can't shoot further than they can travel in one turn, giving a reasonable meaning for "short range".
* PD range should similar or smaller than SR range. This way, PD ships can't protect SR ships from LR missiles or fighters by sitting behind the SR. Rather, the PD has to be out front of its SR, giving the PD more time to shoot at LR missles as they go by (towards the SR). This leaves the PD vulnerable to attacking SR (since the friendly SR is behind the friendly PD).
* PD shouldn't have to chase after fighters due to its range being too small, and fighters shouldn't be able to fly around PD too easily, or else PD might be too difficult to use.
* Keeping fighter range and PD range roughly equal should ensure fighters can't shoot past PD to hit something behind the PD, but that fighters can get fairly close to the PD, and can shoot back at it without too much difficulty.
* LR range should be more than two turns travel (or twice SR range), but not much larger than this so that the LR needs to be kept within a reasonable distance of their targets to keep them vulnerable to counterattacks.


Unanswered Question:

* Do fighters need a range they can travel away from their carrier, or should they be a fully autonomous unit once launched?


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:58 am 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
* Ships move about 5 AU per combat turn
* Short Range (SR) ships can fire at targets within 5 AU
* Point Defence (PD) ships can shoot about 3 AU
* Fighters can shoot about 3 AU
* Long Range (LR) ships shoot about 15 AU

I was thinking. In Moo2 it is possible to fire your missiles then move your ship, putting your ship in front of your missiles. All weapons will have to move faster than 5AU, and should move that full distance upon being fired. This would make sense since in Moo2 if your fired a beam weapon it hit the target then. But missiles would stay there. Well, in this case missiles would move 5AU+ straight away.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
Unanswered Question:
* Do fighters need a range they can travel away from their carrier, or should they be a fully autonomous unit once launched?

I think if fighters have a limited range, then it provides a need to use more tactics in their deployment and to protect your carrier more. If your carrier could just sit back safetly and let the fighters do the work, then there wouldn't be much risk. Also technology can increase fighter fuel ranges, with fuel tanks you could make carriers that are able to sit back and deploy long fuel range fighters.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:03 pm 
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Another point for consideration : What advantage does being the defender of a well developed system confer?

e.g. some or all of the following:

:arrow: Starbases providing additonal or extra large scanning arrays

:arrow: Being in orbit around a planet or star, or hiding in an asteroid field or dust cloud makes you harder to detect (this may become hide and seek, alternatively it might mean we have some interesting tactical terrain features to utilise).

:arrow: System / planet specials such as planetary sensor array, or system sensor net, which would provide global detection of the entire battlefield for the defender (at least of un-stealthed attacking ships)


A few other considerations w.r.t. stealth:

:arrow: Once a ship is detected, it should become harder for it to hide again (once you know where to look and what to look for... ) i.e. apply some hysteresis to detection ranges.

:arrow: Possibly have separate detection and identification ranges - i.e. you can initially detect a blob 'on the radar' but you wont be able to tell what it is (or even how big it is or how many there are of it) until you get closer.

:arrow: Its already been suggested to have dedicated scout / sensor ships to do the detecting for other ships - we could possibly also have the stealthy counterparts, i.e. jamming ships which decrease the detectability of nearby ships.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:55 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
Reasons and Consequences:

* SR ships can't shoot further than they can travel in one turn, giving a reasonable meaning for "short range".
* PD range should similar or smaller than SR range. This way, PD ships can't protect SR ships from LR missiles or fighters by sitting behind the SR. Rather, the PD has to be out front of its SR, giving the PD more time to shoot at LR missles as they go by (towards the SR). This leaves the PD vulnerable to attacking SR (since the friendly SR is behind the friendly PD).
* PD shouldn't have to chase after fighters due to its range being too small, and fighters shouldn't be able to fly around PD too easily, or else PD might be too difficult to use.
* Keeping fighter range and PD range roughly equal should ensure fighters can't shoot past PD to hit something behind the PD, but that fighters can get fairly close to the PD, and can shoot back at it without too much difficulty.
* LR range should be more than two turns travel (or twice SR range), but not much larger than this so that the LR needs to be kept within a reasonable distance of their targets to keep them vulnerable to counterattacks.

The relative distances sound like a very reasonable start.
The value of the specific numbers may need to be altered to fit the relative length and speed of combat, and of course, how fast range changes up the tech tree.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:43 am 
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utilae wrote:
I was thinking. In Moo2 it is possible to fire your missiles then move your ship, putting your ship in front of your missiles. All weapons will have to move faster than 5AU, and should move that full distance upon being fired. This would make sense since in Moo2 if your fired a beam weapon it hit the target then. But missiles would stay there. Well, in this case missiles would move 5AU+ straight away.
that just means you have slow missiles. :P actually MoO2 had a small failing in that there were many techs to improve ship speed, but only one small upgrade for missile speed.

But yeah. Fighters were the Scourge of the universe in SE3. Why? they had no practical limits. they'd have ordinary ship based weapons, a very high speed, and unlimited range. Very over powered, the only limitation was that fighters were a form of cargo and once destroyed the carrier would have to go pick up more at a planet.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:10 am 
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Range and logic work for me, too, for starters.

W.r.t. to thoughts of overall range at midgame, and assuming a possible planetary defense bonus(discussed in another thread), I think an opposing fleet entering a system with two or more starlanes should still be able to circumvent planetary defenses, and access another starlane, without engaging (or at least minimum damage from LR). Of course, any defending fleet can engage. The exception will be any starbase\battlestations built to engage starlane to starlane travel, which should be beginning in earnest by midgame.

Slightly off topic, but still in regards to weapons range, I think an arriving fleet from a starlane should only have to deal with defending LR weapons. This being so to allow an arriving fleet a moment's descision time to decide retreat or attack, without significant fleet loss. Perhaps some area cleaning effect, ala stargate, by the starlane to clear obstacles. Thus defenses must sit back at LR distances.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 5:17 am 
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Sandlapper wrote:
I think an opposing fleet entering a system with two or more starlanes should still be able to circumvent planetary defenses, and access another starlane, without engaging.

One of the main purposes (besides AI simplification) of having Starlanes is to provide "strategic bottlenecks". This function would be compromised if a fast fleet can simply fly past the defenders, and right to an empire's core worlds. It hasn't actually been determined that starlanes actually open at specific points in a system, as your idea assumes. It's not quite off topic (since the way that ships enter and leave a system effects the significance of "range"), so i link to another way of connecting systems to starlanes.

Sandlapper wrote:
Slightly off topic, but still in regards to weapons range, I think an arriving fleet from a starlane should only have to deal with defending LR weapons. This being so to allow an arriving fleet a moment's descision time to decide retreat or attack, without significant fleet loss. Perhaps some area cleaning effect, ala stargate, by the starlane to clear obstacles. Thus defenses must sit back at LR distances.

I'm not quite sure how to make it happen, but that idea feels right. IMHO combat shouldn't be begin nose-to-nose. Perhaps there's a (totally unscientific) "shockwave" that pushes any ships back that are too close to ships exiting a starlane.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:06 am 
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eleazar wrote:
One of the main purposes (besides AI simplification) of having Starlanes is to provide "strategic bottlenecks". This function would be compromised if a fast fleet can simply fly past the defenders, and right to an empire's core worlds.

Well, that sounds like a Good Thing to me - this means that a defender cant always just sit back and wait for the enemy to come to him, sometimes youre going to have to get out there and head them off. So just building a bunch of huge orbital stations around your planets isnt going to do the job, you will have to have sufficient ships as well.

Of course, the attacking ships would still have to 'run the gauntlet' of the defenders long range weaponry even if the defending ships didnt come out to get them, and also note that if a fleet supply system is implemented, bypassing heavily defended border systems wont be without penalties for the attacker. Sounds like good stuff to me.

Sandlapper wrote:
Slightly off topic, but still in regards to weapons range, I think an arriving fleet from a starlane should only have to deal with defending LR weapons.

Is there a distinction between LR direct fire weapons and 'stand off' weapons such as missiles and fighters (as there was in Moo3)? I would envisage that an arriving fleet would probably be out of range of LR beam weapons, but would have to deal with missiles and fighters no matter where they were in the system.


Starlane Defences

One other thing that i remember got discussed during Moo3 development (and that didnt make it into the released game) was the possibility of allowing the defender to decide where to place their defensive ships, in particular whether they could choose to concentrate their forces at the starlane exit point. I think this should probably be disallowed since it would actually reduce tactical gameplay, and would probably make things far too easy for a defender (i.e. just pile loads of SR ships around the starlane).

However i think there could be the option for the defender to build fixed defences around starlane exit points (i.e. space stations) - these should be limited in quantity to a point where they wont stop a significant invasion force on their own, but would be a first line of defence to inflict at least some damage on an incoming fleet, and would probably be able to stop small incursions dead in their tracks.

Also discussed during Moo3 development was a load of stuff about allowing an incoming fleet to 'exit wide' to bypass the fixed defences and any defending ships clustered around the starlane exit point, at some cost to the incoming fleet (cant remember exactly what that cost was - possibly required some special device to be fitted during ship design), which allowed some more tactical options to be used.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:39 am 
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Daveybaby wrote:
Is there a distinction between LR direct fire weapons and 'stand off' weapons such as missiles and fighters (as there was in Moo3)?

FreeOrion's Design Pad categorizes weapons differently than MOO3:
Quote:
LR is long range, indirect-fire weaponry that is good against ships, but bad against fighters.

indirect-fire means missiles and torpedoes.
In MOO3 LR weapons are direct-fire i.e. beam weapons, with range much greater than that of SR direct-fire weapons.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 10:48 am 
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Daveybaby wrote:
Also discussed during Moo3 development was a load of stuff about allowing an incoming fleet to 'exit wide' to bypass the fixed defences and any defending ships clustered around the starlane exit point, at some cost to the incoming fleet (cant remember exactly what that cost was - possibly required some special device to be fitted during ship design), which allowed some more tactical options to be used.

Yes, this is a viable idea. You could think of it as how good your breaks are. If attacking ships have really good 'breaks' they could break late and exit closer into the system and effectively bypass the starlane defenses. The fastest sublight engines or the greatest warp speed/impusle speed combination would be ideal for getting maximum speed into the system.

So a player choosing to place defenses has the dilema of heavy starlane defense (bottleneck defense) or an inner system defense (catch those late breakers).


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:05 am 
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utilae wrote:
I think if fighters have a limited range, then it provides a need to use more tactics in their deployment and to protect your carrier more. If your carrier could just sit back safetly and let the fighters do the work, then there wouldn't be much risk.

How would range-limited fighters work in practice?

Fighters aren't quite like missiles, which can base their range issues on where they are when launched, so that in the simplest case, it doesn't matter where their launching ships goes after that.

With range-limited fighters though, will they just always have to be within that distance of their launching ship? How will we deal with situations where fighters are at the edge of their range? Will the ship not be allowed to move further away from its fighters than they are allowed to be from it, or will the fighters be forced back towards their ship if it moves too far in the other direction? Limiting movement like this could be annoying, and could be complicated and difficult to deal with if the fighters are treated as autonomous units from their launching carrier.

I suppose an alternative is to not treat fighters like a separately-controllable unit during the battle, but instead treat them entirely as a weapon system of their ship. To order the fighters to attack something, you'd order their carrier itself to attack, and the fighters would automatically fly over and do the attacking without further input.

This is a rather significant design decision though, and might not be best to make on the basis of wanting to limit fighter ranges without considering the issue of how fighters work in general for its own sake. It raises issues of how to use fighters for other orders besides "attack", such as "scout", "protect", "follow" or general "move to", in which the respective roles or instructions for carrier and its fighters are less clear and in which the player might need more control over their separate activities...

Daveybaby wrote:
:arrow: Once a ship is detected, it should become harder for it to hide again (once you know where to look and what to look for... ) i.e. apply some hysteresis to detection ranges.

I'm doubtful of the value that this extra complexity would provide. Once one has detected a ship, one knows where it is and can send scouts in its direction... Why simulate what can be an interactive part of the tactics?

Quote:
:arrow: Possibly have separate detection and identification ranges - i.e. you can initially detect a blob 'on the radar' but you wont be able to tell what it is (or even how big it is or how many there are of it) until you get closer.

This has been suggested before. I'm skeptical of the value that it adds though, and want to hear a good case for it besides "hey, this could be done" before we add the significant extra complexity it would entail.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:48 pm 
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Geoff the Medio wrote:
With range-limited fighters though, will they just always have to be within that distance of their launching ship?

We could have it two ways:
*If out of range, they move back into range. They do not run out of fuel.
*They can run out of fuel. If they don't make it back to the carrier, the drift, dead in space, though crew still alive. Maybe as long as within range of carrier, they won't lose fuel and won't ever be dead in space. So if a carrier exits battle (hyperspace jump away) then the fighters would soon be dead in space.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
How will we deal with situations where fighters are at the edge of their range? Will the ship not be allowed to move further away from its fighters than they are allowed to be from it, or will the fighters be forced back towards their ship if it moves too far in the other direction? Limiting movement like this could be annoying, and could be complicated and difficult to deal with if the fighters are treated as autonomous units from their launching carrier.

The carrier would go where ever it wants. Its the fighters that would have to keep within range, which would be automated, unless the player instructed.

Geoff the Medio wrote:
I suppose an alternative is to not treat fighters like a separately-controllable unit during the battle, but instead treat them entirely as a weapon system of their ship. To order the fighters to attack something, you'd order their carrier itself to attack, and the fighters would automatically fly over and do the attacking without further input.

The best way I think is to treat them like a weapon. The carrier can launch fighters at any point, but if fighter range is limited, then the carrier has to go in with fighters to get closer. So the carrier might as well just hold them and launch them closer. Once the fighters are launched, they are a 'group' able to be controlled as a group, as any other ship. Eg Move, attack, return to mothership as an instant go to carrier command.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:05 pm 
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In MoO2 fighters have a time limit. in the later SE games they have a fuel gauge. when that hits 0 they are dead in space. They can refuel at the carrier that launched them though.

Quote:
="eleazar"]I'm not quite sure how to make it happen, but that idea feels right. IMHO combat shouldn't be begin nose-to-nose. Perhaps there's a (totally unscientific) "shockwave" that pushes any ships back that are too close to ships exiting a starlane.
Babylon 5 explained this as being a side effect of hyperspace technology. It had to be kept apart from everything else of the "flash" effect of the gate openign or closing would damage things.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:32 am 
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This thread is now closed.

Please see http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/0.4_Design_Pad for more information. A new design thread will be started shortly.


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